There are few things more dreadful than working out without energy. When you’re tired, sluggish and lacking energy, it becomes hard to get anything useful done. Yes, something is better than nothing but if we can prevent this from happening, why not?
Having the right fuel for your workout is one of the keys to success. Nowadays, there seem to be thousands of products available to boost your energy and awaken your inner animal. Do they work? Yes they do. But at what price? When you take a look at the fine print, how many of these products have ingredients which you can barely pronounce? Food labeling is a bit of a mystery as companies can call the same compound different things. Once the public catches on and turns negative, they start calling something a different name (for example high fructose corn syrup has been renamed multiple times).
As I have grown older, I have become increasingly aware of issues within our nutrition industry such as chemical overload, treatment of animals, sustainability, water usage etcetera. Without becoming too extreme or a conspiracy theorist, I have decided to attempt a more balanced and health oriented nutrition habit and turn more towards a plant based diet. So far this has worked out great. I’ve become more lean, energy levels are great (and steady) and no loss of lean mass whatsoever. Why on Earth did I not do this before? Well, it’s probably because I wasn’t aware of ALL issues, as most people are. Also, constantly being overwhelmed by ads, marketing, samples and friends’ experiences, you’re inclined to believe their amazing claims. Yes even though they may work temporarily, is it really that good for you or society in the long term? Obviously obesity and chronic diseases are at an all time high so I would say no.
Now to give you an idea of which foods you can eat as snacks or before a workout to keep your energy levels up, here are 5 great pre workout snacks.
A fruit smoothie. Since the fruits are mashed up, the structure is already broken down partially which gives your body sugars fairly quickly. However, there is still a lot of fiber present which gives you a lower glycemic index score so your blood sugar doesn’t spike. Drink it an hour or so beforehand. Since it is heavier, you may not want to do a mile sprint minutes after drinking it. I like to add some plant based protein powder to it for texture, slow down absorption and to kickstart recovery afterwards.
- Fruit with nut butter. The main factor in a pre workout snack are carbs so make sure the majority is fruit. The nut butter however adds some healthy fats and protein.
- Oatmeal for sustained energy. This one is also easy to customize. Add some fruits to it for quicker sugar delivery. The oatmeal however will make sure your blood sugar levels don’t crash right after. It’s widely considered a breakfast meal but the oatmeal police won’t come after you, I promise.
- Whole grain bread or crackers with hummus. The chickpeas consist of a good amount of protein, but also carbs. The bread or crackers will give you some extra carbs for your workout.
- Energy bar or dried fruit with dates. Dates deliver sugars fast to boost your energy. Have them with some nuts or find/make energy bars with dates in them.
When you have your pre workout snack, have them with coconut water. This is filled with electrolytes and keep you hydrated. This will prevent fatigue and cramps. Plus it’s a lot healthier for you than the fluorescent colored sports drinks, filled with who knows what!
More and more high level athletes now are vegetarian or vegan. This simply demonstrates that we don’t necessarily need all the other products to make fantastic progress and boost performance. Personally, I’m not cutting everything out but have moved towards more balance and moderation, which has been working out really well. Give it a try, it can’t hurt.
If you do decide to make some changes, consult with a professional. There are plenty of fantastic nutritionists and programs on FitGuana’s Global Store who can support you in this step towards better health and performance!
By Sander Vanacker for FitGuana
Sander Vanacker is a personal trainer, CEO of Bring Back Nature, Inc. and founder of FitGuana. He believes in improving health and wellness by incorporating more nature into our lives, being active and spending more time outdoors.